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Author Topic: Apiary site and hive count decisions  (Read 446 times)

Offline omnimirage

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Apiary site and hive count decisions
« on: July 30, 2017, 07:01:11 pm »
I've been planning on moving my nine beehives from a location that hasn't been good for my bees, to a location that's full of so much biodiversity and flowering things; it's admist a vibrant national park.

Now, I rang the owner, seeing if he wanted to go through with the move; the reception was poor, he said that he didn't want the bees to move there, I vaguely heard something about him being concerned about there being more bees on his 45 acre property, and being concerned about someone (children?) getting stung by bees. We ended the call, and he rang back a few minutes later, saying that his wife told him that there's a bee shortage in the world, which apparently was the reason why he had a change of heart, and wanted me now to move not just a couple of my beehives as suggested, but all nine.

So now I'm left wondering what to actually do. It's difficult for me to move beehives, I need to get a trailer, which I have no experience in, and it'd be unsafe to attempt to move them by myself, considering he lives in the hills, so I'm dependent on someone helping me by driving the trailer. I really don't want to have to move them there, then move them elsewhere. I figure though, that there's a low chance he'll want me to move them, once they're established there; I doubt he'll notice much more bee activity from nine hives, living in a 45 acre surronded by national park.

Another concern that I have, is I'm not sure if I'll be creating too much of a demand on myself, by having nine hives at one location. I have six on another, and I rarely seem to ever be able to complete all the required maintence work on six hives during one day. It's an hour drive to this place, so I wonder if it'd be more fuel effective to have a more managable hive count here. Granted, these six hives are particularlly demanding hives and I doubt these nine that I'll be moving will ever get to such a state.

I also have two other apiary site locations that I can set up more locally. They're pretty decent, but by no means the gold mine that this other place is. I wonder if I should just capture a bunch of swarms come spring time, and set up all 3 locations; I'd then have 4 apiary sites, with about 25-30 hives. Currently, I have 20, and am struggling to manage it all, so not sure if setting up more hives and sites is wise, but I do have all the boxs and frames set up ready to go.

I'm a bit unsure what's the best way to proceed, and would appreciate some feedback.

Online little john

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Re: Apiary site and hive count decisions
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2017, 06:02:08 am »
A couple of thoughts ...

One being that the 'gold mine' guy changed his mind after just talking with his wife, and although you're hoping/assuming that he probably won't be changing his mind again - what after he talks with his cousin, or nephew, or some other relative who might want to put some hives on his property ?  I would be very cautious indeed of entering into any kind of business arrangement with a person who changed their mind quite so readily after talking with others.

Although the idea of starting an out-apiary there is very seductive indeed, I'm also reading that moving hives is a major hassle for you, and - more importantly - that you can't cope with your present work-load too well.


This is what Issac Hopkins had to say (albeit regarding larger numbers of hives) about starting-up an out-apiary - which may be relevant to your current situation:
Quote
" There is one point worth considering and that is, while it is not wise to overstock any one apiary to a large extent, it may pay better to do so a little rather than start another. For instance, say the home apiary would be fairly stocked with 100 colonies, it might be more profitable to put down 150 and get a little less average per colony, than to establish another several miles away, with all the trouble and expense of attending to it.
It is quite possible to do better with larger and fewer apiaries, than with a greater number of smaller ones. It will also depend upon the amount of bee pasturage in the surrounding district as to the distance the apiaries should be apart. If plentiful, three to four miles, or say four miles in every direction would be far enough. " 
(Bearing in mind of course that he was writing in 1911, when transport wasn't what it is today.)

If you really are struggling with 20 hives, then the more colonies you create, the worse that situation will get. And at some point you'll no longer be running an apiary - it'll be running you ! (... and running you ragged, I suspect !)

I wonder if it would help to go right back to 'first base', and ask yourself exactly why you're keeping bees ?  Is it to make money ?  Is there an element of fun or curiosity about it ?  Identifying very clearly your prime motivation for the keeping of honey bees may then make a useful contribution towards the decision-making you're having difficulty with.

I hope something I've written here helps, it's so difficult to advise anyone with these kind of decisions as it's such a personal issue.

Good Luck.
LJ
A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping - http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Apiary site and hive count decisions
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2017, 10:39:14 am »
I have had a similar situation happen to me. About a year ago, I ask a friend if I could put bees on his 20 acre property. He was very hesitant. I talked to him last week about it and he was concerned but said he would talk to his brother who owns part of the property. He called back and said his brother thinks it is a great idea and I can put all of my hives on his property. I will be moving them all on a trailer soon.
You will need to have your own trailer so that you can keep them on the trailer all the time.
I took an old boat trailer, took the boat mounts off and built a flat platform on it and added eye hooks all around the edge. I put 11 on both sides and 3 in the front and back. It handles really well on the highway. If you do it make sure you have at least 10% of the weight on the hitch.
Jim

"If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed.  If you do read the newspaper you are misinformed."--Mark Twain

Offline eltalia

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Re: Apiary site and hive count decisions
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2017, 06:19:32 pm »
He'lll be needin' wheel locks down in that part of the country, Jim.
All in all I'd be heeding LJ's wisdom, if only for the fire factor. It could come to pass the hives need to be moved. fast. To rely on someone in two minds knowing a fire front is imminent..?.. could bring tears, trailer mounted or not.

Cheers.

Bill

Offline Oldbeavo

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Re: Apiary site and hive count decisions
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2017, 07:14:30 pm »
Locating hives is pretty well a decision made by the individual, but maintaining more hives tends to be a grow with it factor.
We started with 10 hives and over 2 years got to 40 hives, carrying 16 at a time in the trailer and thought that we were so flat out that how could we handle any more. But next year we moved to 73 and again, how busy were we. Acquired a bigger trailer and moved 44 in a load, and so on and so on, until today bees are my job and we run 300 hives.
As your bee knowledge increases your decision making about what happens in a hive gets quicker, your smoker lighting and time it runs gets better, your queen finding techniques get better so you become quicker or more efficient but as you get bigger you have to make allowance for how you deal with more honey than the original amount of hives produced.

Offline eltalia

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Re: Apiary site and hive count decisions
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2017, 08:01:36 pm »
All well an good, OB, pretty much how I went "commercial" many moons ago although my start came from my mentor's bequeathed estate which included some 25 hives.
There is a sunset clause to it all though, that which the OP implies. Like when the logistics,  and nuances of aging, become a factor in maintaining colonies it is time to walk away.
Where time and health are no impairment., go for it. Yet if either create a degree if procrastination, then best to err on the side of caution.
One can have just as much fun with 2 TBH colonies as 250 Lang's... the knowledge factor remains.
At least there is how it is working out for this old fart ;-)

Cheers.

Bill

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Apiary site and hive count decisions
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2017, 08:43:41 pm »
I met an eighty plus year old man in Tampa Florida who was handling 1000 hives. I asked him how many employees he had and his answer was zero.
Jim
"If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed.  If you do read the newspaper you are misinformed."--Mark Twain

Offline eltalia

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Re: Apiary site and hive count decisions
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2017, 09:05:19 pm »
heh... a long sunset or another case of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, Jim?  ;-)))))

Cheerio..

Bill

Offline GSF

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Re: Apiary site and hive count decisions
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2017, 04:06:33 pm »
I'm up to about 40, way too many for a working man, or woman.
When the law no longer protects you from the corrupt, but protects the corrupt from you - then you know your nation is doomed.

Offline omnimirage

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Re: Apiary site and hive count decisions
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2017, 11:21:19 pm »
Hey some great posts thanks.

I have some goals with my beekeeping, that I know I'll be very disappointed on my deathbed if I don't achieve them . Basically, I want to establish for myself a regular farmer's market that I attend, where I'm able to consistently and provide honey, and other goods, to people. Meaning that I want to be able to produce a good 20-40 kilos of honey a week. I'm not exactly sure how many hives I'd need to do this. My hives haven't been doing well for awhile now. I think part of the reason is that these 9 hives are not at a good location for honey production. Another part is Australia seems to be having a national wide honey drought, and my site that produces the majority of my honey, did particularly awful as of late.

I think I will move all nine hives to this new location. I've realised that, even if I post ads to remove people's bee swarms, I'll probably get a bunch of them come to me anyway. Last year, I had six swarms come to me. Even if I get half that, I can use them to set up a more local site.

Offline eltalia

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Re: Apiary site and hive count decisions
« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2017, 12:25:35 am »
"Another part is Australia seems to be having a national wide honey drought, and my site that produces the majority of my honey, did particularly awful as of late."

You have any cites for such?
What I am seeing is that with no real "winter snap" in the recent past the bees haven't had any "reset" function for flows when they come. In short, lulled into "she'll be right mate".
Whilst mangos and lychee - two of their favorites - have been in bud over a month now, bees aren't as vigourous as seen when those flowerings happen in August, as they should. I have a set of weeping willows (Darwin teatree) I am hungrily waiting bees to work. The budding thusfar is poor and what there is the bees are walking past into the lantana!
I've waved me stockwhip at 'em...and they just flyby in a giggling gaggle!!

Beeees...who'd have'em ;-)

Bill




Offline omnimirage

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Re: Apiary site and hive count decisions
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2017, 01:32:26 am »
I've realised 20-40 kilos is way too much.. Want more 15-25 a week, as a long-term goal.

I don't have any cites. I'm merely relaying what a couple local beekeepers have told me. I've noticed this year in particular, I've had hardly any honey production, and what I've gathered from locals it's due to the abnormal weather effecting things.




Offline Oldbeavo

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Re: Apiary site and hive count decisions
« Reply #12 on: August 03, 2017, 07:55:47 am »
Omm
You will need 50 hives plus to give you an average of 15-20 kg per week.
20kg per week is a tonne over the whole year or 40kg average per hive.
When you increase in numbers and experience you will need some good flows at some time in the year to average 40 kg over all hives.
We started doing one market per month and at times were fairly short of honey, robbing frames Saturday morning to extract that afternoon to sell Sunday.

Offline omnimirage

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Re: Apiary site and hive count decisions
« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2017, 04:16:34 am »
Good to know Oldbeavo thanks!